Student Scholars from Eagle’s Trace Championed by Residents


By any measure, students in their freshman year of post-secondary studies find themselves in an unusual situation. Virtual classes, hybrid instructional models, social distancing, and revised schedules are a lot to navigate.

For one group of students, there’s a wave of support coming from their former workplace. Eagle’s Trace, the West Houston community developed and managed by Erickson Living, employs high school students in the dining services department, creating an opportunity to build unique relationships across generations.

“Working at Eagle’s Trace is a job unlike any other,” says Executive Director Stephen Aigner. “The students build relationships with our residents day after day, which is so different from working someplace else where they’d serve a customer they might never see again.”

To support and encourage student employees, residents of Eagle’s Trace established the Scholarship Committee.

Annual fundraising drive

The 14-member Scholarship Committee runs an annual scholarship drive to raise money for student scholarships.

“The majority of contributions to the scholarship fund come from resident donations,” says Aigner.

During the 2020 scholarship drive, Eagle’s Trace residents donated $77,000. Several clubs on campus have also supported the scholarship fund over the years, including the Treasure Chest, an on-site resale shop; The Jewels of Eagle’s Trace; and the Library Committee.

In addition to funds, the Scholarship Committee provides mentoring, aptitude testing, and career counseling opportunities for students employed in dining services at the West Houston community. This year, the Scholarship Committee established a subcommittee, led by Dr. Ruth Justice, to explore mentoring opportunities between residents and student employees to assist in charting a meaningful career path.

“Our residents have done a great job serving as career mentors. I know I speak for everyone at Eagle’s Trace when I say we send you our best wishes for a good first year in college,” says Ruth to the students.

‘First step into adulthood’

To be eligible for a scholarship, student employees must work at least 1,000 hours in dining services over their junior and senior years of high school. They must also maintain a ‘C’ average or higher in school and pass a performance review by their dining services supervisor. Each scholarship is worth $10,000, paid directly to the student’s institution of higher learning. The funds are distributed over the course of the student’s academic career, with $1,000 applied to tuition costs during each semester of a student’s freshman and sophomore years, and $1,500 applied to tuition costs each semester of a student’s junior and senior years.

“I started my career with Erickson Living 20 years ago in dining services, working with students just like the ones we have at Eagle’s Trace,” says Aigner. “I have a special place in my heart for our scholarship program because it provides a way to celebrate one of life’s big moments. For these students, high school graduation is their first step into adulthood.”

Key to the future

Dr. Philip Peter, chair of the Scholarship Committee, says the 2020 student scholarship class is the largest in the program’s 13- year history, with 15 student employees receiving a scholarship for post-secondary education. To commemorate the award, the committee gave each scholarship recipient an uncut key.

“Each year that you’re in class and acquiring knowledge and a skill, you will [figuratively] mill the base of the key, so that, at the end of your college career, you will have the combination that opens the door to your degree and your future in your chosen field,” Philip told the scholarship recipients.

Student employees at Eagle’s Trace attend high schools across the city, including Westside High School, George Bush High School, James E. Taylor High School, Alief Hastings High School, Alief Taylor High School, and Elsik High School. The 2020 student scholarship recipients are attending schools across the state and beyond, with one traveling as far as New York City to attend the Culinary Institute of America. Others are attending the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Houston, Sam Houston State University, Prairie View A&M University, Stephen F. Austin University, and Houston Community College.

Their courses of study are equally as diverse, with interests in computer science, accounting, studio art, business, criminal justice, baking and pastries, agriculture, kinesiology, nursing, and dentistry.

“What a treat it has been to be with you,” Scholarship Committee member Cathy McKeever told the scholarship recipients. “Now, as you’re ready to take off, you’ll meet new people, learn new skills, and hopefully, take the life lessons you’ve learned at Eagle’s Trace into your future.”

About Eagle’s Trace: Eagle’s Trace, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 72-acre campus in West Houston, Texas. The not-for-profit community of more than 960 residents and 500 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, Inc., who provide independent financial and operational oversight. Additional information can be found at

Written by Sara Martin

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